Fiction,  Health&Wellness,  Writing

5 Ways to Handle Feedback & Criticism Like a Champ

Getting feedback on your writing, or any other task, isn’t always easy. I recently got my manuscript back from my editor with all of her feedback and notes and a video outlining all the things I needed to fix. That same week, I got a pretty harsh review on one of the free Tarot Readings I’m doing as part of my Tarot Reader Certification program (more on that later). In both cases, I felt my heart race, my chest tighten, and I felt like I was on the attack. 

This is normal! 

But instead of crying in my coffee or yelling at the sky, I did these 5 things and felt like a true champ. 

Give yourself time and space

Don’t read through the feedback or reviews (seriously, this works great for those less-than-stellar book reviews!) until you have time to devote to reading it slowly and the mental space to not be distracted by TV, your family, or day job tasks. You want to set time on the calendar to hold space for yourself and for the feedback.

Let yourself feel your feelings

Reading feedback or criticism of any kind is going to bring up all kinds of feelings, this is natural. You’re going to feel defensive, upset, angry – don’t stop yourself from feeling these things. Talk it out – even just to yourself, write it out, dance it out, draw it out, whatever you do when you have big feelings – let yourself feel all the things. This is another reason for taking space, because you want to have the time to feel and process these things.

Take a break

After you read through the entire thing, and you’ve let yourself feel all the feelings – give yourself a break. If this is a major criticism or feedback from your boss or your editor, take a day or two. If it’s something smaller (but still just as serious to your psyche) maybe an hour or two will be sufficient. But give yourself that extended time to let yourself process what you read without responding. This is important – do not email, do not respond, do not take any actions or make any changes until you let yourself take that space away from the feedback. Please, don’t be rash – we can let our emotions get the best of us, send off a quick email, and then realize too late what we did. You don’t want to burn any bridges or cause any hurt feelings.

Re-read the feedback

After your break, re-read the feedback. See how you feel now? Still angry? Feeling better?  Can you now see their point of view? Especially in the case of an editor’s feedback – can you see that she might be right – even if only on certain things?  Is this something you are willing to fix?  Start asking yourself these questions while you re-read the feedback as many times as you need. If you need to email them back or respond in some way, start taking notes about what you want to say. Again – do not respond yet. If you’re still feeling very prickly or on guard, repeat the steps above – talk out your feelings, take a break, and come back. You don’t have to agree on everything but you do need to be able to express that in a calm, clear manner.

Fix the problems

Once you have calmed down, seen the feedback from the other person’s point of view, and responded in a mature manner it is now time to make the necessary changes. Do you need more input? For example, my editor and I are meeting this week to work on a new editing plan for the final draft of this book. In the case of my tarot reading, I just made some choices for how to read going forward, no further input needed. And if you decided not to change something, and you’ve told them in a clear and calm manner, can you live with that choice? Good! 

How do you handle feedback or criticism? Could you try these next time the situation arises? What do you think might happen? Let me know in the comments below!

Next time, I’ll be talking about my editing plan and how to create one for your own book, see you then.